Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Emergency siren testing paused for winter in Rapid City

Rapid City's emergency sirens, like this one pictured at Omaha Street, will go unused through February.
C.J. Keene
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Rapid City's emergency sirens, like this one pictured at Omaha Street, will go unused through February.

Pennington County Emergency Management shared the announcement this month that all outdoor warning siren tests are paused through February.

Alexa White, deputy director of Pennington County Emergency Management, compared the situation to your car.

“When you turn on your car in the cold weather you need a little warm up time," White said. "You don’t get that with a siren when it just goes on full-throttle for three minutes with rotating parts – it's just going straight on. So, it was just a way to reduce some of the wear and tear.

It’s the first time in White’s tenure – over a decade – Pennington County paused siren testing. She said they’re ready should an emergency strike.

“Of our 34 sirens, 30-plus are working all the time," White said. "They’re able to be turned on, the button can be pushed at a moments notice, and they all work, but you never know there might be one or two that are having some issues. That’s why we do the tests, so we can find those out, but just with pausing it for these two months it gives them a little bit more time to warm up in the weather that we’re having.”

Across the state in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County Emergency Manager Regan Smith said silencing sirens is not an unusual occurrence.

“It's pretty standard in the Upper Midwest for communities to suspend their monthly testing of the outdoor warning siren system," Smith said. "We started doing it here in Sioux Falls about three years ago. It’s hard on the pulley systems and some of the electronics and things like that – the extreme temperatures and ice. It just causes a lot of damage to the system.”

Siren tests resume in Pennington County March 4. Residents with questions about the emergency warning system are encouraged to get in touch with their local emergency management organization.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture